California wildfire researchers say “This has never happened” in response to a special kind of fuel

The CW39 Houston

HOUSTON (CW39) A team of researchers from San Jose State University’s Wildfire Interdisciplinary Research Center say the 2021 fire season is looking grim.

Meteorologist Adam Epstein joins CW39 Houston’s Star Harvey to talk more about what this could mean for the upcoming wildfire season this May through October.

The lack of rain this season has severely impacted our chaparral live fuel moistures. Wow, never seen April fuels look so… dry. No new growth anywhere in this Chamise. April is climatologically the highest live FMC of the season. Very Scary!

SJSU professor and director, Craig Clements posted on Twitter:


‘Fuel moisture content’ is a measure of the amount of water in a fuel (vegetation) available to a fire, and is expressed as a percent of the dry weight of that specific fuel. To get these totals researchers weigh wet samples, typically Chamise, one of the most widespread plants in California’s chaparral landscape, dry them out for 24 hours and then weigh them a second time to get the dry weight. 

When fuel moisture content is high, fires do not ignite readily, or at all, but when the fuel moisture content is low, fires start easily and will spread at a rapid rate.

This finding comes earlier this month, and also just a year after California saw one of it’s largest wildfire season in history.

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